Ginger Bug is a naturally fermented starter culture for making a variety of fermented drinks, such as root beer, ginger beer or fermented lemonade. If you’re someone who likes to drink sugary fizzy drinks, this is an easy way to start making your own healthy, fermented alternatives.
Like sourdough starter, Ginger Bug is a starter culture that is rich in wild, beneficial bacteria and yeast. These starters kick-start the fermentation for other fermented foods. Sourdough starter creates sourdough bread, kombucha mothers make fermented tea, and Ginger Bug creates homemade, naturally fermented sodas.
Once you’ve made up your Ginger Bug starter mix (it just takes a few days), you can use the fermented magical liquid to ferment other drinks, such as healthy alternatives to sugary cocktail mixers. Let’s get going on making up our first batch of Ginger Bug! This is lovely to do with children and they’ll enjoy creating their own fizzy drinks once the Ginger Bug is ready…
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1 tablespoon diced fresh ginger (WITH the peel still on)
- 1 teaspoon raw sugar
- Add 2 cups of filtered water to a sanitised jar (cleanliness is important).
- Add the diced ginger.
- Add the sugar.
- Pop on a tight lid and give the jar a shake.
- Every day for about 4 to 6 days feed it another tablespoon of ginger and a teaspoon of sugar.
- Once the liquid is very bubbly, it’s ready to use in all manner of fermented drink recipes!
- It’ll keep in the fridge for a week
• Dice the ginger instead of grating it. While many recipes call for grated ginger, cubed or diced ginger works just as well and it’s easier to strain, too.
• Use sugar or another caloric sweetener. The yeast and bacteria that make your bug bubble need sugar to help them grow. Sugar is the most common choice, but you can also use honey, maple syrup, palm sugar, or any other caloric sweetener. Avoid non-caloric sweeteners like stevia.
• Turmeric and galangal work well too. You can substitute both fresh turmeric and fresh galangal in place of the ginger, for variety. Or use a combination.
• Use organic ginger. Conventionally grown ginger is often irradiated, which may impact its ability to form a thriving bug. Irradiation is disallowed in organic production, so organic ginger works best.
• Use chlorine-free water. Chlorine in tap water can interfere with bacterial and yeast production, so choose filtered water or spring water.
• Seal your jar tightly for the best yeast production. While it may seem counter-intuitive since other fermented drinks, like kombucha, often use an open container, your ginger bug does best in a sealed container like a clamp-top jar.
How To Use Your Ginger Bug
- To make soda from your ginger bug, strain about ½ cup liquid from your jar and stir it into 7 ½ cups of sweetened herbal tea or fruit juice. Pour the tea or juice into flip-top bottles.
- Remember to leave ½ to 1-inch head space. And then let your homemade soda culture at room temperature for up to 3 days. Then, transfer the bottles to the fridge and enjoy them within a few months.
- It’s important to use fruit juice or sweetened herbal tea when you make homemade, naturally fermented sodas. The bacteria and yeast in your bug thrive on sugar. Without it, your soda and beers won’t ferment properly.
Jo Rowkins is a nutritional therapist and lifestyle coach. She is passionate about all things wellness, and has helped hundreds of people on their wellness journeys. You can consult privately with Jo for your own bespoke healthy plan.
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